Recently retired Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward is coming to a television set near you as Ed Bouchette passes along the word today that Ward has been hired by NBC. Not only will Ward be part of Football Night in America on Sundays, he also is slated to appear regularly on NBC SportsTalk with Mike Florio and Sports Illustrated\’s Peter King in addition to being a college football studio analyst.
This is not the first time that Ward has been on the other side of the camera as he has done a few guest analyst spots in the past and he was also part of the Super Bowl pregame show this past February. Ward also received quite a bit of camera face time last year as he danced away with the trophy on Dancing with the Stars.
Ward now follows in the footsteps of former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, who was hired by NBC six years ago following his retirement from the game. Bettis lasted three years before not having his contract renewed.
Ward has been preparing for a broadcasting career after football for some time now as he and quarterback Charlie Batch took attended the four-day NFL Broadcast Boot Camp back in June of 2010. That experience gave Ward a greater appreciation for broadcasting. He was quoted at that time as saying, “Going out and playing in front of 67,000 fans is much easier than getting (in front of) a camera,” Ward said following his turn in the color analyst\’s chair. “But all in all, that\’s what it\’s all about, preparing for life after football. Being here at boot camp gives me a chance to see where I want to go with things.”
Ward has the smile and the charisma to do well in broadcasting. The biggest criticism that he will face will likely surround how he handles the partiality factor with the Steelers and how critical will he allow himself to be of his former employer and teammates going forward. We should get a good idea right off the bat as the Steelers play the Denver Broncos in week one on Sunday night.